What goes into the design of a smoke ring?

Spark excitement in how you can use the canvas of a simple smoke ring to play around with Form, Stitch Pattern(s), Embellishment, Structure.

HeartStrings Smoke Rings

I think of lace as a fiber artist’s canvas. Allow yourself to think of adaptations and interpretations that reach beyond the bounds of traditional lace; appealing and inspiring while still based on heritage.

The simple tubular shape of the smoke ring provides excellent opportunities to feature lace designs at beginning and end of the tube and/or body of the tube.

Here are some design element variations you might look for in a smoke ring pattern, or consider if you are designing your own smoke ring —

Form

The tube can either be of uniform circumference large enough to wear over the head (see Sizing for a Custom Fit),

Silk Smoke Ring

Silk Smoke

OR the circumference at one end can be wider to give a broader seating upon the shoulders, then taper to the narrower circumference needed to wear over the head.

Flared Lace Smoke Ring

Flared Lace Smoke Ring

Stitch Pattern(s)

The tube can be knitted in the same repeating stitch pattern throughout, as in the Silk Smoke design above, or the beginning and ending edges treated differently.

Note that even though the Silk Smoke design above uses the same repeating stitch pattern throughout, the beginning and ending edges are scalloped — this occurs naturally as a result of the bias structure of the lace pattern stitch that is used in the design. There are no special knitting techniques needed to get the scalloped edge, making gracefully beautiful smoke rings like this approachable by even relative beginners to lace knitting.

In the Beaded Smoke Ring below, the tube begins at the lower edge with a relatively elaborate stitch pattern and ends at upper edge with simpler coordinating stitch pattern. The body is left plain.

Beaded Smoke Ring

Beaded Smoke Ring

The smoke ring tube can also be a series of pattern stitches throughout, such as in the Lace Puffs Smoke Ring below that features an interplay of positive and negative space. This smoke ring begins at the top edge with a wide band of softly textured puffs arising from a ground of laciness. The design then transitions into a wide ribbing where the double eyelets create negative space to mirror the positive space of the puffs. Finally, the knitting returns to puffs that widen at the bottom of the ring for a bit of flare.

Lace Puffs

Lace Puffs

Embellishment

In the Beaded Smoke Ring, the lower and upper edges are enhanced with beads that are knitted in between the picot points.

Beaded Smoke Ring

Beaded Smoke Ring

Instead of embellishing with beads in a planned way, you can also let beads randomly enhance the fabric design by using beaded accent yarn (see Tips for making the most of beaded accent yarn). In Wisps of Smoke, alternating stitch pattern bands of the design are knitted with yarn that has been plied with tiny beads pre-strung on a fine thread.

Wisps of Smoke

Wisps of Smoke

Close-up detail of Wisps of Smoke

Close-up detail of Wisps of Smoke

Combining Structural Elements

In the next example, the smoke ring has three elements of lace design constructed in alternating orientations of sideways and circularly:

  1. a strip of lace edging that is joined into a ring
  2. a tube knitted circularly in a simple lace pattern to length required
  3. a bound off edging in a decorative eyelet
Smoke Ring with Lace Edging

Smoke Ring with Lace Edging

I hope these examples spark excitement in how you can use the “canvas” of a simple smoke ring to play around with Form, Stitch Pattern(s), Embellishment, and Structure. Have fun!

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Smoke Rings: Sizing for a Custom Fit

Smoke Ring with Lace Edging knitted by suehead on Ravelry

Measure head size to determine target circumference. Depending upon your personal preference, you might want to upsize or downsize a bit. For length, measure from your forehead to an inch or two below base of neck depending on your preferences.

If there is need to resize the circumference of a smoke ring pattern, it will usually not be major amounts such as might be needed for other parts of our bodies! One of these strategies will likely suffice —

1. If the pattern stitch multiple used in the pattern is a relatively small number of stitches (e.g. a multiple of the stitch pattern in the planned gauge is approximately equivalent to the measurement you need to adjust for), just add or subtract the corresponding number of stitches for that multiple.

2. If the pattern stitch is quite large, it might be adequate to adjust up or down by a needle size (or ½ needle size as available in some of the metric sizes). The drape of the fabric desired for a smoke ring is usually within some tolerance of a couple of needle sizes, and exact fit is not quite as important as if we were doing a sweater or socks.

Important! Remember that finished sizes for lace are taken after the lace is blocked. So be sure to take this into account in your project planning and sampling.

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It’s Here! Get Your Smoke Ring KAL Pattern Now

Will you join us? This month’s KAL revisits lace edgings, the Bits of Lace focus area that started off KnitHeartStrings in January 2012!

Our project is Smoke Ring with Lace Edging, a versatile accessory you can wear laid on your shoulders as a dressy cowl neckline, or pulled over your head for light-as-air warmth without messing your hairdo.

Smoke Ring with Lace Edging

Smoke Ring with Lace Edging

Go to the Smoke Ring KAL page now to get your pattern and start knitting. Be sure you are logged in so that you will see the discounted pattern offer for your KnitHeartStrings member level.

The “smoke” part of the name smoke ring refers to the light-as-air fibers with superb warmth for their weight that are often used in making smoke rings. See Picking Your Yarn for characteristics to keep in mind as you choose the yarn to knit your smoke ring.

The “ring” part of the name refers to the smoke ring’s tubular construction. Most often, the smoke is knitted circularly to make a seamless tube. Lace stitch patterns are often used in knitting smoke rings, giving this form of cowl/wimple a dressy, upscale look. 

Techniques used and described

The lace edging of Smoke Ring with Lace Edging is a beautiful addition to the basic smoke ring tube. For this pattern, the lace edging also serves as the beginning foundation of the tube.

Like most lace edgings, you’ll be starting on just a few stitches (11 to be exact!). So, even if you are new to lace, this is a great project to start exploring the structure and techniques of knitted lace.

For knitters of all skill, there are interesting techniques throughout. I hope you might even pick up a tip or two along the way that you didn’t know or had forgotten about.

  • Beginning with a strip of pretty lace edging knit flat. Detailed instructions are included for provisional cast on and grafting for an invisible seam.
  • Picking up stitches and knitting circularly in an overall lace stitch pattern.
  • Binding off in a decorative lacy stitch.

Join Now

I hope you will join us to learn and knit along for Smoke Ring with Lace Edging. If you already are a KnitHeartStrings member, just login and go to the Smoke Ring KAL page now to get your pattern and start knitting.

If you are not yet a member of KnitHeartStrings, you can Join Here.

Mary Jo S. wrote: “Although I’ve been knitting for over 50 years, each time I work thru your projects I am finding hints and help to improve the quality of my work. Thank you for making learning so easy and enjoyable.”

 

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Win a Smoke Ring Kit

In keeping with the Smoke Ring theme for this month’s KAL, the October Prize to be given away at the end of the month to a lucky winner (maybe you?) is a kit with luxury yarn and your choice of 2 patterns to make a beautiful and practical smoke ring.

Flared Lace Smoke Ring

Flared Lace Smoke Ring

Smoke Ring with Lace Edging

Smoke Ring with Lace Edging

The Luxury Smoke Ring Kit includes –

  • Personally autographed, hard-copy pattern for a smoke ring; your choice of either #A45 Smoke Ring with Lace Edging or #A49 Flared Lace Smoke Ring
  • A continuous skein of luxury yarn (50% baby alpaca, 25% merino, 25% angora) that is enough to complete the smoke ring of your choice in the color of your choice (either natural gray or natural white); the yarn has been washed and skeined, and is ready for you to wind into a ball to knit your smoke ring

To Participate in the October Prize Giveaway

Click on over to the Monthly Prize Giveaway page to see how you can win the October Smoke Ring Kit.

The random drawing will be held right after I tally the entries at close of October 31, 2014. I’ll announce the winner as soon as possible after that. I hope the winner will be YOU! Good luck.

yarn for smoke ring

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Smoke Rings: Picking A Yarn

The project for our October KAL is Smoke Ring with Lace Edging, a versatile accessory you can wear laid on your shoulders as a dressy cowl neckline or pulled over your head as a wimple. A smoke ring is also sometimes referred to as a natchaq.

Get Ready for October’s KAL now by checking out the shopping list and gathering your supplies.

The “smoke” part of the name smoke ring refers to the light-as-air fibers with superb warmth for their weight that are often used in making smoke rings.

Here are some characteristics to keep in mind as you pick the yarn to knit your smoke ring.

yarn for smoke ring

Treat Yourself — It Only Takes a Relatively Small Amount

Lace smoke rings require only a relatively small amount of yarn to knit them, thanks to:

1. the small project size (just enough to cover the head and lay upon the shoulders) and

2. the fact that lace is knit at a looser gauge than normal knitting and the holes take up less yarn than solid knitting!

This is great news for those who are looking for an excuse to treat themselves to using an exotic yarn, or even gifting someone else with a small amount of special yarn and pattern to go with it.

Soft and Uniformly Spun

Since the smoke ring will be worn close to the neck and about the face, you’ll want to choose a yarn soft to your skin.

Also, a smooth, uniformly spun yarn will show off the lace to best effect.

Light-As-Air Warmth

Yarns in qiviut, cashmere, yak down, alpaca, angora, silk and wool blends with these fibers are just a few of the many good choices. These fibers have natural insulation properties without a lot of added weight (which means your hair will not get messed if you wear the smoke ring pulled up over your head).

Allow for Drape and Bloom

Choose a lace or light fingering weight yarn in a loose enough gauge to allow your chosen yarn to drape nicely when worn, and to allow the lace holes to be clearly seen.

This is especially important in fibers that “bloom“; i.e. they puff up and become fuller looking when washed and/or increase their halo more and more as worn. Examples are angora, qiviut, cashmere, bison, yak and other down fibers.

Also, see the article What Is Blooming? at my HeartStringsFiberArts.com website.

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Patterns for Troika Technique

The troika technique of alternating 3 ends of yarn used in spot weaving such as this month’s learn-and-knit-along for the Spot Woven Dishcloth can be carried over to other slipped stitch patterns and even garter stitch and lace.

I borrowed the word “troika” from the original Russian, meaning a “set of three”.  Troika Technique uses 3 strands of yarn that are worked 1 strand each row in a rotating sequence.

Especially with slipped stitch patterns, and even with garter stitch, using the troika technique is an easy way to intermix colors or textures while working with just 1 end of yarn on a row in “stripes” that don’t really end up looking like stripes.

Another advantage of the 3-ended troika sequence is that the changes of colors are carried up each edge equally (rather than all up on just one of the edges).

Here are the patterns currently in the HeartStrings collection that incorporate the troika technique. I hope you enjoy trying out this interesting technique in one or more of these patterns. There are 2 For Free and 3 For Fee:

Troika Scarf Troika Scarf is a super easy odd-ball, stash-busting knit sideways along the length in garter stitch using any 3 different yarns in sport weight to chunky you have on hand or might dig out of your LYS’s close-out sale bin.

Pattern available for free here.

Troika Wrap-Around Faroese Shawl knitted by Joy Cyr Troika Wrap-Around Faroese Shawl is a wonderfully simple and fun shawl shaped like a giant butterfly. Knitted in a troika 3-ball garter stitch technique from the top-down, this is a great pattern for using a mix of novelty and stash yarns.

Pattern available for purchase here.

Spot Woven Dishcloth Spot Woven Dishcloth was the September KAL knit-and-learn-along project at KnitHeartStrings. In addition to using the troika technique, this project teaches spot weaving using 2 working ends of a main color and 1 end of accent spot color.

Pattern available for free here with KnitHeartStrings membership. Not a member? Join Now – There is no charge to join.

Beaded Shamrocks Socks Beaded Shamrock Socks uses spot woven stitch pattern along with the troika technique for a sturdy heel flap that mimics the look of beads. The design motivation was to carry forward the look of beading beyond the sock cuff and upper leg. But of course, using beads in the heel could be very uncomfortable if worn with shoes, lol.

Pattern available for purchase here.

Easy Asymmetry Wrap Easy Asymmetry Wrap is the ideal 3-ball pattern for creating your own one-of-a-kind designer lace shawl with a mix of fancy and/or classic yarns using the troika technique.

Pattern available for purchase here.

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Get ready for October’s KAL

Smoke Rings — Beautiful and Practical 

Our next Beyond BOBBOL Learn-and-Knit-A-Long revisits lace edgings, the Bits of Lace focus area that started off KnitHeartStrings in 2012!

Smoke Ring with Lace Edging

Smoke Ring with Lace Edging

The project is Smoke Ring with Lace Edging, a versatile accessory you can wear laid on your shoulders as a dressy cowl neckline, or pulled over your head as a wimple. A smoke ring is also sometimes referred to as a natchaq.

The “ring” part of the name refers to the smoke ring’s tubular construction. Most often, the smoke is knitted circularly to make a seamless tube. Lace stitch patterns are often used in knitting smoke rings, giving this form of cowl/wimple a dressy, upscale look.

And “smoke” refers to the light-as-air fibers with superb warmth for their weight that are often used in making smoke rings.

See the Next Up KAL page for more information, Shopping List and event dates.

I hope you will join us to knit and learn along for Smoke Ring with Lace Edging. If you are not yet a member of KnitHeartStrings, you can Join Here

Posted in Bits of Lace | Tagged | 1 Comment